Some unique methods are being used for collecting donations, giving Costa Rican residents and other concerned parties worldwide the opportunity to help, and even giving text messages a higher purpose.
Other than official donations, there have been numerous individuals organizing drives to specific regions, businesses organizing drives for food and toiletries, youth programs attempting to console children and youth in the affected areas and residents donating via text messages.
The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) is allowing any cell phone user to donate quickly and easily by text messaging to a number corresponding to a certain amount.
Red Cross Youth has a program called “Return to Happiness” devoted to helping children and youth cope with the Jan. 8 disaster. They went out to the affected areas this week and brought puppets shows, clowns, paint, games and balloon animals to nearly 500 children and youth.
The Red Cross has been accepting donations since the day of the earthquake and has had a tremendous response. Red Cross said donations have not diminished over the past week and they hope the trend will continue.
Individuals and companies are coming together to collect donations. The Hotel San Guilder collaborated with both the Alajuela and Escazú Rotary clubs, collecting as many supplies as possible for three days following the quake.
“The generosity of the people was overwhelming,” said Liliana Rohrmoser, who works for Hotel San Guilder and was one of the organizers. “We had so many supplies to be able to bring the people who are stranded. It was absolutely incredible.”
The Municipal Council of Escazú plans to donate ¢5 million (just over $9,000) from their 2009 budget over the next couples of weeks to help reconstruct destroyed areas. Banco de Costa Rica set up an account to help the victims.
Other banks followed suit, and BanCrédito Bank opened an account for foreigners and residents alike to deposit contributions.
The National Housing Mortgage Bank, also known as the financial arm of the housing industry, opened a special bank account through BCR for donations that will go specifically to rebuilding homes. They are asking developers and construction companies to help out by donating materials or even building homes.
Right after the disaster, both Colombia and the United States provided helicopters to help evacuate the injured, stranded and dead.
Colombia provided one helicopter, two pilots and four professional rescue workers. They worked alongside Costa Rican aid workers, searching for buried victims and bodies amid the ruins and debris.
The U.S. provided four choppers and made a $50,000 donation to the relief effort. China donated $100,000, and Venezuela sent a substantial amount of supplies.
Tico Times reporters Gillian Gillers and Leland Baxter-Neal contributed to this story.
Here’s How to Help the Earthquake Victims
The Ombudswoman’s Office (Defensoría de los Habitantes) (2248-2374), the Christian charity organization Asociación Obras del Espíritu Santo (2286-5252), the Costa Rican Red Cross and the National Emergency Commission (CNE) are coordinating all donations to assist those affected by Thursday’s earthquake.
They can direct anyone wishing to donate to the nearest drop-off, or suggest other ways to help.
The CNE is receiving cash donations in the following bank accounts: Banco de Costa Rica: 91100-3 (colones) and 118281-1 (dollars); Banco Nacional: 911-8 (dollars).
The Banco de Costa Rica has said it will match any donations made by Jan. 23, up to ¢250 million ($454,545). The account number for BCR clients to transfer funds is 001-250-0. For non-clients, the account number is: 15201001000025008. The bank’s identification number is 4-000-000019.
BCR customers can also donate online by logging on to www.bancobcr.com, or by telephone by calling (506) 2258-9191. For more information on BCR donations, contact Kattia Morales 2287-9088 or 8388-0403.
Donations can also be made by text message with any cell phone account with the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE). By texting the word “DONAR” to one of the following numbers, you will automatically be charged the corresponding donation on your next bill: 1423 – ¢1,000 (about $2), 2423 – ¢2,000 ($4), 5423 – ¢5,000 ($10), and 9423 – ¢10,000 ($18).
The Costa Rica-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) is receiving donations at its offices, 300 meters north of ICE in the western San José’s Sabana Norte, and to its accounts with Banco Nacional.
Donations in colones can be sent to #100 01 000 043517-2, and in dollars to #100 02 000 616147-5. For more information, contact AMCHAM’s offices at 2220-2800.
People outside of Costa Rica can wire money to AMCHAM’s account, 100-02-000-616147-5, SWIFT BNCRCRSJ, Banco Nacional de Costa Rica, Agency code 000, address Avenida 1 y 3, Calles 2 y 4, San José, Costa Rica, telephone (506) 2212-2267.
The Red Cross (2542-5000) has also designated Confecciones Borkar, S.A., the Alajuela-based business of AMCHAM President Michael Borg, as a donation site, located 800m west of the Catholic Church in San Rafael de Poás. Confecciones Borkar can be reached at 2448-5575.
The Escazú Rotary Club has set up operations in the Hotel San Gildar in San Rafael de Escazú. It is seeking sleeping bags, milk, non-perishable food, candles and personal hygiene items. For more information, contact the group at 2289-8843.
Other aid organizations have posted information on a Facebook group, “Terremoto Costa Rica: ayuda a victimas” (Costa Rica Earthquake: help for victims) (http://es-a.facebook.com:80/group.php?gid=43715883340).
Numbers for the National Emergency Commission are 2210-2725, 2210-2723, 2210-2763 and 2210-2764.
The National Association for the Protection of Animals (ANPA) is also collecting donations to assist animals affected by the earthquake. ANPA can be reached at 2255-3757 and 2255-7722.